The Old Hrodna Castle (also known as the Hrodna Upper Castle and Bathory's Castle) dates from the 11th century as the seat of a dynasty of Black Ruthenian rulers, descended from a younger son of Yaroslav the Wise of Kiev. The 13th-century keep of the castle belonged to a type of Belarusian defensive tower represented by the Tower of Kamyanyets. Vytautas the Great added five Brick Gothic towers in 1391-98, transforming the castle into one of his main residences. Casimir IV Jagiellon also favoured Hrodna over Lithuania's official capital. It was there that the Polish Crown was offered to him, and it was there that he died in 1495.
The next notable tenant of the castle was Stephen Báthory who envisaged Hrodna as the capital of his vast empire in Eastern Europe. He engaged Scotto of Parma to replace the Vytautas Castle with his own residence in the advanced Renaissance taste of Northern Italy. After Bathory's death in Hrodna in 1586, his pet project was abandoned. The citadel was devastated by the Russians during a Russo-Polish War in 1655.
The castle's revival was owing to Krzysztof Zygmunt Pac who raised sufficient funds to finance the refurbishing of the royal residence. The restored castle was selected by King Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki of Poland as the location for every third Sejm of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The castle suffered extensive damage during the Great Northern War, forcing the royal court to move into the New Hrodna Castle.
After the partitions of Poland the castle was given over to the Russian army and housed a barracks. The authorities of interwar Poland restored the chamber of the ambassadors and the Sejm Hall. In 1925, the former royal palace opened on historical and archaeological museum. At present the castle is located the main exhibition of Grodno Museum of History and Archeology.References:
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.
Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.
In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.
The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.
In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.
After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.
In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.
Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.
In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.
In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.